If you always suffer from constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn and bloating, then let me share with you some of the useful healthy facts and tips here.
Our digestive tract is hollow to allow the passage of food that is broken down into nutrients to be absorbed into the body. The liver and pancreas produce digestive juices for the intestine. The gall bladder stores bile from the liver. Mucus and smooth muscles help move everything along and out the back door. This usual one-way system works well; however, when things go amiss, it caused us to suffer from constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn and bloating.
The following are the useful healthy lifestyle tips that we can adapt:
Healthy tummy lifestyle
- Be active at least 2.5 hours a week. This may not be that difficult if we were to start with some regular, moderate-intensity exercises like cycling, brisk walking or jungle trekking;
- Maintain a healthy weight;
- Whether we like it or not, we have to drink plenty of water to prevent constipation. Ideally, eight glasses a day is needed;
- We have to give up smoking to reduce the risk of bowel cancer; and
- Be aware of medications with gastrointestinal side-effects. Aspirin, non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), certain tranquillisers, painkillers, cough medicines and iron tablets can upset our tummy or may cause constipation. Diarrhoea may occur with antibiotics or antacids. Do inform your doctor if your prescribed medicines are causing discomfort.
Feed in the good bacteria
One way to prevent bowel troubles is by ingesting good bacteria, called probiotics (‘pro’ + ‘biota’ = ‘for life’). We may be surprised to know that we have probably been swallowing them for years which we are not aware especially if we love live cultured yoghurt, kefir, lassi, temps, kimchi and miso.
Probiotics thrive in healthy bodies. In fact, inside our gut, there are 100 trillion (about 500 species!) probiotics. What is so great about probiotics is that these invisible helpers keep the body harmful bacteria under control and aid us in our food digestion and nutrient absorption, and help to support our immune system. That is the reason probiotics are often recommended for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Research has shown that probiotics can decrease the presence of carcinogens and may prevent cancer.
(Note: IBS is a common ailment that refers to tummy problem caused by changes in the digestive tract. The most common symptoms are diarrhoea or constipation, or both and abdominal pain.)
Make fibres our tummy aide
Try ingesting dietary fibre be it soluble and insoluble as a high fibre rich diet can reduce the risk of constipation. A low-fat, high-fibre diet, i.e. 20-30 g/day of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains can greatly improve our digestive health. However, too much fibre, especially in IBS cases, can exacerbate diarrhoea and IBS symptoms.
DID YOU KNOW Antibiotics kill both bad and good bacteria? Hence, we need to replenish the good bacteria after treatment to get our digestive system back on track.
Remember, persistent symptoms could signal a serious illness.
Tan Kok Hui
Nutrition Made Simple, Life Made Rich